Cover: Shepherd’s Sight: A Farming Life by Barbara McLean

Shepherd’s Sight: A Farming Life

McLean, Barbara

  • “A joy to read. Compelling, wise, and deeply human.” — Helen Humphreys, author of Followed by the Lark

    A restorative and resonant memoir of a year in the life of an aging shepherd

    For 50 years, Barbara McLean has tended a flock of Border Leicester sheep on her small Ontario farm. Shepherd’s Sight shares the crises, pleasures, and challenges of farm life through the seasons. Now in her 70s, McLean faces a new problem: how much longer she can continue with the physically taxing work that is her central source of meaning and satisfaction.

    Through her unsentimental gaze, we witness the highs and heartbreaks of delivering and rearing lambs, the shearing and spinning of wool, the wildlife in the woods (and occasionally in the house), and the garden produce moving from seed to harvest to table. Even after half a century on this land, McLean is still making fresh observations, and she shares them in evocative, elegant prose. As she moves through the calendar year, she also reflects on years past, offering a long view on climate, stewardship, and agriculture.

    With its lyrical description and absorbing storytelling, Shepherd’s Sight offers an unforgettable glimpse of a life lived on the land.


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  • Barbara McLean is the author of Lambsquarters: Scenes from a Handmade Life (2002). She lives in Grey County, Ontario.

  • Published: March 2024

    ISBN: 9781770417656

    Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.

    Pages: 240


“In a tightly woven skein of past and present, Barbara McLean relives her half-century on an old Ontario farm: the restoration of the buildings, the gathering of her flock of sheep, the exhilarations, the losses, and finally, the grief of knowing she can’t stay there forever. More than a memoir of farming or living on the land, McLean describes a life-arc we all travel in different ways, from the hope and energy of youth to the rock-hard decisions of advancing age.” — Merilyn Simonds, author of Woman, Watching

Shepherd’s Sight is a beautiful reminder that, for individuals and nations alike, it’s only natural for memories to change, for awareness to deepen. If the day that Barbara McLean fears comes sooner rather than later, let’s hope she can nonetheless continue writing books such as this.” — Literary Review of Canada

“Barbara McLean’s chronicle of a life spent as a shepherd in Ontario — tied to the urgency of tasks and the seasons — is a joy to read. Compelling, wise, and deeply human.” — Helen Humphreys, author of Followed by the Lark

Shepherd’s Sight is a rich book, full of the realities, both enchanting and difficult, of living life on the land. McLean brings a reminder of where our wool comes from and graciously shares her years of experience and wonder.” — Digits & Threads: Canadian Fibre & Textile Arts Magazine